For those who don't know, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a weekly series I started where I recap the events of the week, both on the site and regarding the Kings. I started the GBU back in the FanPosts almost four years ago and for some reason you people seemed to like them enough that Tom made me an editor.
It's been almost nine months to the day that the GBU last appeared on the site; After it was revealed that the Maloofs had agreed to sell the team to Chris Hansen, we moved our priorities away from basketball to focus primarily on that story. Even so, I still would get e-mails and comments imploring me to bring the GBU back.
Fortunately we had a happy ending to our story. The Kings stayed, the Maloofs left, and now, the GBU is coming back for good. This will be the only GBU of the month however, acting as a sort of offseason recap. The GBU will return weekly immediately before the season begins.
1. Here We Stayed
The last three years have been an incredible struggle for Kings fans, a rollercoaster of emotion that seemingly had no end. We came together as a fanbase and did some incredible things, but even so, it was uncertain whether our efforts would be enough to convince the NBA owners that the Kings should remain in Sacramento. Luckily, we had the advantage of a mayor who wouldn't give up despite the odds, who found a coalition of owners led by Vivek Ranadivé that was willing to pay an NBA record franchise valuation for one of the worst teams in the league, as well as pay for a significant portion of a new downtown arena. In the end it was enough to convince 22 owners that the Kings were Sacramento's team, and that they would be for at least another 35 years.
This will be the first season in a while where our primary focus can return to on the court. The excitement around the team is palpable. Since the decision to stay, the Kings have become the #1 team in new season ticket sales in he entire NBA. During the relocation saga, we held several Here We Stay and Here We Buy nights at the arena which brought in hundreds of people to the games; This year, we already have 715+ using Sactown Royalty's group deal for a game against the Pistons and the season is a month away.
We learned throughout the saga that adversity can bring together, but it was definitely hard trying to convince people to spend their hard earned money or invest emotionally in a team that could be gone at any moment. Now that pall of impending doom has lifted, and we can spend at least the next 35 years secure in the knowledge that the Kings are here to stay.
2. Management overhaul
With new ownership comes a complete overhaul of the front office and coaching staff, something that hasn't been done in Sacramento in a long time. While the coaching staff had been a carousel since Rick Adelman had left, Geoff Petrie had been the longest tenured General Manager in the entire league.
The Kings surprised many pundits when they hired their coach before their new GM. Vivek was smitten with Michael Malone from his time in Golden State, and I can already see why. Malone has a reputation as a stellar defensive coach, and in each of his three stops (Cleveland, New Orleans and Golden State), those teams have seen marked improvement in their defense. The Kings have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league for years, and should hopefully change that under Malone. Malone opeted for a whole new assistant coaching staff, including directly recruiting former King Corliss Williamson.
The GM search took much longer than the coaching search. We heard names like Chris Mullin, Chris Wallace, David Morway & even Larry Bird among others. In the end, the Kings settled on Denver assistant Pete D'Alessandro, thus giving them a first time coach and a first time GM. Mullin was eventually hired as an advisor of sorts and Vivek claims his advice led to the hiring of D'Alessandro in the first place.
The business side of things wasn't left untouched either. In one of the most underrated pick-ups in recent memory, Sacramento hired NBA exec Chris Granger to run business operations. Granger was already familiar with Sacramento as he was the liaison that the NBA sent to Sacramento to help boost ticket sales after the Anaheim debacle.
In recent years, it always seems as if a top rated prospect falls into Sacramento's laps in the lottery. This year the Kings were enamored with the potential of Ben McLemore, an athletic freak who could also shoot the lights out. However, McLemore was projected to be taken somewhere in the Top-3, maybe Top-5 at the least, and the Kings were prepared to trade up from #7 to grab him.
They didn't need to, as both McLemore and Nerlens Noel had big drops on draft night. Sacramento was able to pick McLemore up without giving up any assets. Should McLemore even come close to realizing his potential, this will be looked at as a draft night steal in what was otherwise considered to be one of the weakest drafts in memory.
Not to be overlooked the Kings also got a nice pickup in the second round in Ray McCallum. McCallum will have to fight for time, but he's already earned praise for both his performance at Summer League and during training camp.
4. Kings acquire pass first guard in Vasquez
The Kings made the most out of not bringing back Tyreke Evans when they signed-and-traded him for New Orleans guard Greivis Vasquez. Sacramento needs a guard who can pass the ball and create for his teammates, and Vasquez is very, very good at that. He led the entire league in total assists last year and finished second to Paul George for Most Improved Player. He'll have to unseat Isaiah Thomas to become the starter, which is not as easy as you may think it is, but regardless of whether he starts or not, he gives the Kings a different look and more depth.
5. Top Hat back
Sacramento's biggest offseason acquisition came as a bit of a surprise when the opted to sign Carl Landry to a four year, $26 million deal. Landry had a bit of a so-so run in Sacramento last time, but since leaving, he returned to his roots as a great per-minute bench scorer, and was one of the better bench bigs in the NBA last year in Golden State. It's unknown whether he will start or come off the bench this time in Sacramento, but whatever the case he adds even more depth and experience to Sacramento's big man rotation.
6. Fresh Prince of Cameroon
The Kings have tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed to find a solution at the Small Forward position since Ron Artest left. This summer they traded a couple future second round picks for Luc Mbah a Moute hoping that 42nd time is the charm. Mbah a Moute is an excellent perimeter defender, and barring injuries (which are a real concern with him), he should give the Kings a reliable wing for the first time in a while.
7. No Monta for us
The Kings were heavily rumored to be in the running for Monta Ellis this summer, and given Vivek's fascination with ex-Warriors, this was always something I feared. Monta is an excellent scorer, but he's a terrible defender and a high usage player who scores at an inefficient rate. He's got just enough talent that you can't have him come off the bench, although that's probably the role he's best suited for. Thankfully the Carl Landry signing put us out of contention of his services.
8. Kings take over Reno Bighorns
One of the first things the new ownership did was start negotiating with the owners of Sacramento's D-League affiliate to buy the team outright. The Bighorns' owners didn't want to sell just yet, but they did sell the Kings the rights to exclusively run the basketball operations of the team with a future option to buy the team. Sacramento can now more directly control their D-League assignments, and they've already installed a new coach (Joel Abelson) and GM (Shareef Abdur-Rahim).
In one of the more surprising announcements of the offseason, the Kings recently revealed that Shaquille O'Neal had invested in the Kings as a minority owner. At first this was surreal and I didn't know what to feel about it, but it's grown on me a lot. Shaq is one of the biggest names in the game, and he helps give the Kings a little bit more relevancy in NBA circles. Like Tom, I think his impact on DeMarcus Cousins will be negligible, but if he can help in any way, that's a plus.
10. DeMarcus Cousins gets a 4 year, $62 million max extension
At first I was unsure whether to include this in the good or the bad. That's a bit like DeMarcus Cousins himself, since you never know which DeMarcus you're going to get from night to night, or even quarter to quarter. But the Kings have decided to give him the keys to the franchise and since getting the extension he's been saying and doing all the right things. His pledge to give $1 million to local Sacramento charities is a big plus as well. He's acknowledge his past troubles and more importantly not laid the blame at the feet of anyone but himself. I hope this attitude carries over into the season and we'll see a more consistent, level-headed Cousins.
1. Regime change comes with unintended consequences
Not all change is good, and I was very sad to learn that the loyalty of some had not been rewarded during the ownership change. Namely the losses of Devin Blankenship, Craig Amazeen & Bobby Jackson. I understand that new owners want their own people, but I wish they would have given these three and other employees that were let go a real shot.
2. So long and thanks for all the Layups
I will miss Tyreke Evans, even though I think the team may be better off without him. Tyreke was one of the few bright spots on this team in recent years, and he gave us some pretty damn good moments. Even though he is no longer a King, and the promise of 20-5-5 will likely never be fulfilled, I wish him the best on the rest of his career and can't wait to applaud him when he comes back to Sacramento as a member of the Pelicans.
3. Iguodala Weirdness
The Kings offered Andre Iguodala a contract this summer, which was kind of shocking, because the Kings never go after big name free agents. What was even more shocking though was that the Kings pulled the offer very quickly when Iguodala wouldn't make up his mind fast enough for them. I'm unsure of what exactly happened here and I don't know if we'll ever know. I know it's nice to see our ownership chasing great players like this, but this still left a bad taste in my mouth.
4. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas
Summer League was not pretty for the Kings. While Ray McCallum proved himself against his peers, Ben McLemore really struggled most of the time, especially with his jumper, which is supposed to be his bread and butter. He shot just 19% from downtown, and only had one game where he really looked comfortable. Summer League isn't a great indication of how a player will be in the NBA, but it's always unsettling seeing top prospects struggle against inferior competition. McLemore has had a few months to work on his game since then, and he will be surrounded by much better talent and coaching.
1. Chris Hansen funds Anti-Arena Campaign
There was a bit of controversy this summer when it was revealed that an anonymous donor had given $80,000 to fund anti-arena signature gathering efforts in Sacramento through the same lawyers that the Maloofs used. The potential scandal was enough to cause two political advisors of the anti-arena campaign, O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E.O.F.G.O., to resign.
It got even weirder when a regulatory agency revealed that the donor was none other than the same Chris Hansen who wanted to buy the team. Hansen later apologized, but it seemed he was more sorry that he got caught. While he sent a strongly worded letter to D.O.N.T.M.O.V.E, to not use the signatures gathered by his donation, it was all for naught as C.E.A.S.E. got the signatures anyway.
We'll see if Hansen is willing to back up his words with actual action to try to get his signatures back, but I doubt it.
Player of the Offseason:
Mayor Kevin Johnson
In the fight to save the Kings there was no greater factor than the efforts of Mayor Kevin Johnson. KJ believed when nobody else could, and he found people willing to invest in both the Kings and Sacramento. He has spearheaded our first real chance at a new arena and changed the NBA's mind multiple times. Without him, there would be no Sacramento Kings. He deserves to have his jersey hanging in the rafters of a new arena.
Thank you KJ.
Image / GIF of the Week:
Johnny Salmons is so ready.
Comment of the Week:
I'll bet a lot of other teams' fans think we're nuts for being jazzed about winning over 30 games.
But everyone here gets it. We’re now at the point where the idea of a lottery team doesn’t seem so bad, because finally there is an actual plan, combined with the means to implement it, to get not just better, but get to be very good.
I don’t mind the bar being low right now, because we’ve finally got someone in charge that’s capable of doing the necessary heavy lifting. This team won’t be particularly good this year, but I know we’re going to see a lot less of the stultifying brand of play we’ve drudged through the past few years.
FanPost of the Week:
Lost, DeMarcus Cousins' Extension, and other thoughts by The Wiliest Coyote
Highlight of the Offseason:
Could it be anything else?
This Week's Picture:
A reminder of the rules for the Caption Contest. Leave your caption in the comments below, and the most rec'd (to recommend a comment, hit action, then rec) caption wins.
Nostradumbass Prediction for the Season:
I of course, am still the reigning Nostradumbass, having won the Prediction Contest by a single point last season. This year, I hope to see more people join in on the fun. Our first Prediction Thread will occur right before the season starts, where you can guess how many wins you think the Kings will have by the end of the season. A correct guess will be worth 5 points at the end of the year.
My prediction is that Sacramento will finish 34-48. 22 of those wins will be at home as the revitalized fanbase carries the team to a few wins just through sheer energy. The Kings will still struggle on the road, but hopefully with their increased depth from last year they'll be able to pull off a few more wins.